Washington DC

Winter cherry trees in Adachi-ku

農大の鈴木誠先生のおかげで、足立区の桜の木のバスツアーに参加させてもらいました。今年は東京がワシントンにあげた桜の百年記念です。今では、ポトマックという川の桜は有名な風景になりました。寒い日なのに、たくさんの人がツアーに参加しました。足立区はたくさんの種類の桜を育ています。冬に咲いているの木もあります。残念なことに、桜を植えた場所は高い電線や高架高速道路の下です。

Thanks to Professor Suzuki Makoto at Nodai, I went on a bus tour of Adachi ward’s cherry trees. They are celebrating the ward’s role in the 100th anniversary of Japan’s gift of cherry trees to Washington DC, where they are now a landmark landscape along the Potomac.

It was fun to see how many local people turned out for the tour and ward office symposium. Adachi-ku continues to cultivate many types of cherry trees, including this winter blooming one. Unfortunately, many of the open spaces for tree-planting are marginal spaces: below the high voltage power lines, and along the Arakawa River, where they are drowned out by multiple levels of elevated freeway.

Like most of Tokyo, it all depends in which direction you’re looking. Adachi-ku is proud also that it retains many views of Mount Fuji. Many of these views include the river and also smokestacks and factories.

Signs of spring

Tokyo has had a strange April. Last Friday there was hail. I was surprised to hear a squishy sound beneath my shoes. Will winter never end? Fortunately, it is now a bit warmer, and I managed to pot up all the small plants I bought for my balcony garden: columbine, two types of jasmine, some yellow button flowers, a clover, and a small purple green vine.

The cherry blossoms ended suddenly with the rain and wind: briefly, the trees are redder as just the flower stems remain, and then suddenly the trees start leafing out. As soon as cherry blossoms pass, dogwood opens up.

Tokyo has a lot of dogwood trees, which come from the mid-Atlantic of the United States. The tree represents a cultural exchange between nations, with Japan providing Washington D.C. with monumental cherry trees, and the United States offering Japan dogwood. It’s strange that many Tokyo residents do not know the origin or significance of dogwood trees. They remind me of my childhood in Baltimore.

US Interlude

New York City window garden

I recently returned to Tokyo from a trip to the US that included a formal meeting with my fellowship sponsor and visits to San Francisco, Los Angeles, Washington DC, and New York.

In the US, urban ecology initiatives seem particularly strong at the municipal government and individual levels. In the photo above, I spotted an amazing formal garden extending on one side of second floor apartment. Perhaps the plants are kept small to preserve light and views from inside.

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